To the layman, finance and accounting may seem like synonyms. If fact, although they are allied in many ways, there are some important differences between the two. Savvy students will quickly see the similarities and differences, especially if one is interested in pursuing a degree in either (or both) of them.
Comparison of Finance Versus Accounting
Finance is principally focused on the management of money and investments for organizations and businesses. A financial expert evaluates the big picture and is generally forward-looking, tuned into financial projections, market trends, and money strategies. A finance professional must have excellent communication skills and be comfortable in group-think settings that involve people from differing fields and points of view.
Accounting, on the other hand, involves a much more “down-in-the-weeds” look at how money moves within businesses, organizations, and for individuals. Accountants are highly detail-oriented. They are well-versed in the vagaries of taxes, budgets, and day-to-day business costs and cash flows. Good accountants possess excellent interpersonal skills and a fine interest in detail.
Variety of Career Paths
There are a wide variety of career paths in the finance arena. Specialization within the overall financial or accounting fields is common.
Finance professionals can specialize in a number of areas. Some of these include corporate portfolio managers, risk analysts, and investment fund managers. In particular, there is high demand for professionals who are able to analyze business cash flow performance and financial statements. International finance is also an important area, especially for multinational companies.
Most accountants become certified in their areas of expertise. Similar to those in the finance arena, accountants often enter into areas of specialization as well. Tax accountants, public accountants, and governmental accounting positions are some of the more important. Accountants are particularly in high demand because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has determined that it needs to increase the number of audits that it will undertake.
Costs of Obtaining Your Education
There are a number of choices available for your business education. The costs will vary, depending on the school that you choose. In some cases, you may be able to obtain your degree at rock-bottom prices.
Most people look first at traditional private or public colleges and universities. For some, the incredibly high cost is a turn-off. Less costly options include community colleges and online college degree programs.
Online colleges may offer you the most economical choice. Indeed, for some students, the opportunity for a really low-cost or even free college degree exists. Free online schooling is available because many sponsors and alumni donate to schools to help the less economically fortunate have greater access to college degrees.
Finance Versus Accounting: What Is the Best Choice?
Both degrees offer an opportunity for challenging, high-paying careers in business fields that are always in demand. The most important criterion that you need to evaluate is you: What is your personality and temperament and how would that fit into one or both career paths? In essence, which field of study fits you best? Ultimately, it will be up to you to discern.